Coast Guard-AWO vessel rider program begins second year

For the second consecutive year, cadets from the U.S. Coast Guard Academy are spending time on board tugboats and towboats this summer as part of a program under the auspices of the Coast Guard-American Waterways Operators (AWO) Safety Partnership. The Coast Guard Academy Cadet Towing Vessel Rider Program was established in February 2012 to educate cadets on the tugboat, towboat and barge industry through a week or more of shoreside and onboard training.

This year’s program is off to a strong start, with AWO members Blessey Marine Services, Inc., Canal Barge Company, Inc., Foss Maritime Company, McAllister Towing, and Seabulk Towing, Inc., all hosting cadets for their training experience. The five companies will host 11 cadets in New Orleans, New York, Seattle and Tampa, Fla.

“Prior to departing the Academy on their summer training programs, participating cadets attended an orientation course and spent two days learning about the nation’s waterways systems,” said Lt. Cmdr. Daniel Cost, marine safety summer training coordinator at the Coast Guard Academy. “At the conclusion of the class, the cadets felt comfortable with the industry and were also extremely excited to be getting the opportunity to partake in the program.”

Canal Barge recently hosted two cadets on a round-trip towboat ride from Vicksburg, Miss., to New Orleans. Tom Smith, vice president of human resources at Canal, noted that “the program is a great way to continue to build the relationship between the industry and the Coast Guard.”

“We could not be more pleased with the program’s direction,” said Jennifer Carpenter, AWO’s senior vice president for national advocacy. “We hope to continue to expand the program to give cadets more exposure to and experience in the industry, and the level of interest from both the companies and the cadets is very encouraging.”

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